Clinton Foundation, Virgin Unite, Yunus Launch “Haiti Forest” Initiative

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Above: new seedlings being planted in Haiti last year (Photo: OP Haiti)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The Clinton Foundation, Virgin Unite and Yunus Social Business have announced the launch of “Haiti Forest,” a new initiative aimed at solving social and environmental issues in Haiti through reforestation.

As part of the initiative, 10,000 hectares of land are being committed by Haiti’s Ministry of Environment to develop the programme in the Artibonite and northern part of the country.

Haiti has suffered serious deforestation over the decades, with just 2 percent of its tree cover remaining.

At the recent CARICOM Summit in Port-au-Prince, Haiti President Michel Martelly, who has declared 2013 the “Year of the Environment,” has said forest management in Haiti can “no longer wait.”

Virgin Unite is the charitable arm of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Yunus Social Business was co-founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus.

Several Clinton Foundation grants totaling $700,000 were announced during the President’s visit, including $150,000 for the Smallholder Farmers Alliance $150,000 for La Colombe and the Leslois Shaw Foundation to develop a coffee academy in Thiotte.

The project will be a coffee farm with an academy attached.

Clinton also announced a $100,000 grant to the Solar Electric Light Fund to install a one-hectare solar market garden, which allows farmers to grow high-value crops during dry season.

The Clinton Foundation will also be extending $57,000 in grant funds for the North Coast Development Sisal Nursery Expansion project, which aims to reach annual production of 1 million sisal bulbs.

The foundation has been working in Haiti since 2009.